The analysts think the launch could be delayed for at least a month and probably more because of complications from the coronavirus scare and how that could gum up production, supply lines and schedules.
There’s also the issue of slowed 5G infrastructure growth because of the virus. Since 2011, Apple has released a new iPhone every September or October. The releases are generally very important for the company in terms of yearly revenue.
The coronavirus has wrenched those plans, however, especially the disruption of the supply chain, which starts in China. There’s also the question of demand, now that most of the economies around the world have essentially shut down to stem the spread of the virus.
Most of Apple’s stores around the world are currently closed, and many countries have enacted stay at home orders until at least next month.
“Given multiple bottlenecks in EVT (engineering verification test, now scheduled in mid-April) and PVT (Production verification test) and pilot production (now scheduled for late June) due to recent travel restrictions imposed globally, we believe that a 1-2 month delay in iPhone launch could indeed happen, but we do not believe that a one-to-two quarter delay is very likely,” said Gokul Hariharan, JPMorgan analyst, about TSMC, Apple’s chip manufacturer.
There’s a long and costly process of bringing a new piece of electronics to market, especially for Apple. The process takes months and usually involves lots of travel to different parts of the supply chain and manufacturing plants to make sure everything is handled the way it’s supposed to be. Even just one step in the process being held back could affect future steps, creating a domino effect.
The onset of 5G infrastructure is another issue, especially because the new phones were meant to take advantage of the technology.
“Delay in U.S. 5G network buildout with the current lockdowns is possibly the main risk for a meaningful push-out in 5G iPhone launches,” the analysts said.